The sight of people in San Francisco bowing to Barry Bonds as he trotted slowly around the bases for the 740th time in his pro career wasn't any big deal. Giants fans have already made peace with the fact that they'll celebrate their hero even if few others will.
The five home runs in his last seven games, though, gave me pause.
You see, I've been trying not to write about Bonds because, like most of America, I'm sick and tired of rehashing the same old arguments about steroids, records and ballplayers with big heads and juvenile personalities.
Until now I've been successful. Even the image of Bonds' personal trainer sitting in a jail cell to protect his player wasn't enough to break my no-Barry vow.
I presume Greg Anderson has his reasons not to testify before a federal grand jury investigating steroid use in sports, though it's hard to tell what they are because he's not talking to the media, either.
Enough, though, of the cream and the clear, and the mute and the jailed. I come here not to bury Bonds, but to praise him.
Actually, what I want to do is thank him for hitting home runs so far this young season like it's 2001 all over again.
I'd do it in person, but that would involve some travel and I'm still not over the two weeks I spent following Bonds last season while he broke Babe Ruth's mark. Besides, he left Sunday's game before it was even over, so it was left to others to marvel about his talent.
``He doesn't have anything bothering him,'' Giants second baseman Ray Durham said. ``The sky's the limit.''
That's good news, and not just for Giants fans who must live with a roster that, without Bonds, has combined for a grand total of four home runs in 17 games. There's a lot of other winners here, though, because the sooner the chase for Henry Aaron's record is over, the quicker baseball can become fun again.
T Park sometime in the not so distant future. Aaron traveled across country earlier this month to celebrate Jackie Robinson at Dodger Stadium, but says he'll likely have a golf game somewhere when Bonds breaks his record.
Aaron will miss what figures to be a most uncomfortable moment for all but the die-hard believers in San Francisco. He won't be alone, even commissioner Bud Selig hasn't decided whether he wants to be part of the celebration.
George Mitchell would like to be there so he could ask some questions. But the man hired by Selig to conduct baseball's official investigation of steroid use can't get anyone to talk to him anyway.
Let's face it, by now the questions about whether Bonds used steroids will probably never be answered. And the public indignation that at one point prompted Congress to step in and force baseball into tougher drug testing has pretty much faded.
Bonds will never be loved like other record holders, though that's probably as much a testament to the shabby way he has always treated fans as it is to steroid allegations. But there's no longer any question that he will have his name in large letters in the record books.
Those who believe he's never been caught doing anything wrong will regard Bonds as the all-time home run champion. Those who believe he was juiced will continue to believe he was juiced and refuse to acknowledge his place in baseball history.
There is no in between. You either believe him or you don't.
So let's get it over with, the quicker the better.
Bonds is doing his part so far, and has been on a tear since he was moved back into the cleanup spot nine games ago. His two home runs over the weekend edged him ever closer to Aaron, and 16 more will make him baseball's all-time home run leader.
Pitchers are helping out as well. They've walked Bonds only 11 times, twice intentionally, in 15 games.
At this rate, assuming Bonds isn't injured, he'll break the record sometime in the middle of June. Even if he cools off, Aaron will be relegated to second place by the All-Star break.
The question then becomes how long does Bonds play and how many more can he hit. Will he be able to set a mark that even Alex Rodriguez, who has 14 home runs already this year and 478 total at the age of 31, will have trouble reaching?
Count me among those who don't really care. There was a time when statistics defined every part of baseball, but numbers are so suspect these days that they don't mean anything.
So let Bonds pass Aaron just like he passed Ruth. Let him take his suspect place as the greatest slugger ever in baseball.
Most of all, just let it be over.
Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at

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